Flight Department Aviation Articles

Transitioning Into Bigger Jets: What to Expect

A few weeks ago we did a post on how to prepare for 121/135 training, aka having to go to a training facility to do ground and sim training and pass a check ride at the end. We talked about tips for how to prepare, how to study and even what to study (biggest things to focus on). This week we're building on that foundation!

So let's start with the basics. Transitioning into bigger faster airplanes does not happen overnight. Studying over a period of time and making sure you're adequately prepared for your check ride that will eventually come up is the best strategy.

1) Memory Items & Limitations:

Same thing I wrote about last post: know your memory items and limitations BEFORE you even get to the training facility. This includes knowing max airspeeds and stall speeds. This will help for your first situation in handling the aircraft. You should have flash cards or an AFM with a limitations chapter & procedures tabs where you can find these items. Studying the AFM as well helps understand why these are memory items and in turn can help you memorize them

2) Don't Fly with Max Thrust Until You're Ready

This is a simple trick, and yet it's one of the most important. If you're jumping in the sim or airplane to fly for the first time, don't get overexcited about it! Sure it's exciting to get to go faster, but with "great speed comes great responsibility." That's a quote I just made up but there is a lot of truth to it!

After you takeoff, pull the power back

When you're cruising and having to fly a complicated clearance or getting ready for an approach, pull the power back as much as you're allowed

Giving yourself more time to set up and not having to rush through the flight generates less room for mistakes. 

3) Use the Autopilot Accordingly

Learn how the autopilot on this plane works: do you have FLC mode? VS? Any VNAV or APPR mode along with NAV? 

As soon as you have it available, click the mode you want and activate it. And if autopilot transfer is a mode on it then MAKE SURE it's selected to the side that is flying.

During training before you have a check ride or before a critical time, mess around with hand flying and no autopilot. I even shot an approach on the standby instruments without a PFD to see how sensitive the controls and power inputs are. This all just builds into better skill.

4) Learn How Your Thrust Levers/Throttles Work

I add this note in because not all levers have the same sensitivity. For example the Citation II takes some work, you have to use a little muscle to move them forward or backward. This is juxtaposed to the Learjets, where 1cm of movement changes N1 by 8%. Just getting a feel for how they work in your plane will be the first biggest step in flying well. 

Remember during your transition to take your time learning things to learn them thoroughly and to ask questions often. Sometimes learning an aircraft with more power can be frustrating and have you doubt your flying skills. Just know it takes time and will come. Fly safe and fly smart!

Questions/comments below

Best Headsets for Your Money in 2021

Well well well, the article we've all been waiting for: how to buy a decent headset without breaking the bank!

Future tip, everything in aviation breaks the bank. Run away while you still can ;)

1) Bose QC35 & NFlight Mic

Looking for some Bose A20's without the price tag? Well, here you go. These headphones are very similar. By buying the Bose QC35 ii and the NFlight Nomad Aviation Microphone, you get the benefit of having normal headphones that double as a headset for about $500, half the price of the A20's! With this, you get noise-cancelling and professional microphone quality. And don't worry, if the headphones die, the microphone still works so you're not left with dead comms. But here's the downside:

  1. this headset is not TSO'd for those who are required to have it for work
  2. the microphone disables Bluetooth when plugged in

HOWEVER, both of these are fixable. You can make this TSO'd by purchasing the NFlight Nomad with David Clark Microphone instead for a higher price than the regular Nomad Pro. Any purchases through NFlight Mic are refundable within 30 days and have a lifetime warranty in which the company will replace the mic attachment, even if the damage is due to abuse. You can also get your Bluetooth back by buying a 3rd piece that costs less than $8. Because the mic disables Bluetooth when plugged in, the Apple Headphone Jack Adapter can plug into the mic box then into your phone and now you get music back in flight!

While the Bose headphones and NFlight Mic have the most popular reviews, you don't have to use these exact brands. A similar company called UFly Mike makes these microphone attachments and also has quality customer service. These microphones are approved to work on any headphones that have a 2.5mm auxiliary audio output. A technical specification says they "can also be easily converted to be compatible with headsets with 3.5mm auxiliary audio inputs with the use of a 2.5mm-to-3.5mm adapter. Popular headsets with a 2.5mm-to-3.5mm adapter:  Sony 1000XM2 and 1000XM3" so you have a range of options depending on what you may already own!

2) David Clark H10-13.4

Okay, first and foremost you can never go wrong with David Clark. The DC H10-13.4 model is your basic and best flight training headset, I won't be convinced otherwise. If you're on the hunt for a headset that will:

  • last forever
  • is comfortable to wear for hours
  • has a good cable length
  • has a foam cushion for the top of your head
  • come from a company with great customer service
  • offers excellent sound quality

then this is the headset for you. Given this does not offer Bluetooth or noise-cancelling, but now you don't have to worry about replacing batteries. Almost no maintenance is ever needed (although I'd recommend cleaning the earpads after a sweaty flight for hygiene purposes). Every time you're ready to fly, just grab this and go. The link attached for this one (in the above paragraph) includes a headset bag which is a must-have. It has different zippers to hold your medical, certificates, photo ID, and whatever else you need. 

For flight training students needing a headset that is cheap but won't break every 6 months, I recommend this every time. In fact, almost all of my students have purchased this exact model and love it. 

3) FARO Stealth Audio Link

Disclaimer: this one isn't a full-on headset. This is a product advertised by Sporty's that can convert any headset -- any brand, passive or active noise reduction -- to a Bluetooth headset. While I've used David Clark's and the NFlight mic conversion, I haven't had the ability to try this out. It's on the to-do list to order and review soon! 

So far the FARO Stealth Audio Link has 4 out of 5 stars with multiple reviews. The downside it seems is the cables can be kind of bulky and it needs improvement on the squelch transmission. But overall you get Bluetooth capability on older headsets that didn't have it installed and it pairs easily with your phone. 

4) FARO Stealth 2 Passive Headset

Last but not least! I had a student send this to me recently and decided to look into it because I was intrigued. This is a basic headset that offers good sound quality but also Bluetooth for less than $250. The FARO Stealth 2 Passive Headset offered through Sporty's is kind of new to the market.

Tested by multiple CFI's (even during covid having to wear a mask), feedback said the Bluetooth sound quality is great and the mic picks up sound easily. What this headset lacks is noise-canceling, which if you're flying GA then do you really need it? Not all small planes are super loud and it's good to be able to hear the engine the entire flight so you can detect if it's trying to tell you something is wrong. This headset may be best for pilots building time and doing longer flying days who aren't looking to spend a lot of money. 

Looking for any other Pilot Supplies? Click on that link and check out our directory of tons of pilot supplies ranging from "A Cut Above" uniforms to aviator sunglasses and, of course, headsets!

Best of luck in your search for a new headset! Questions about any of these or have a headset you'd like to see added to this post? Comment below. 

3 Planes to Add to Your Christmas List

1) Cessna 182 on Floats

Seaplane ratings are one of the least sought after ratings by pilots. They're usually not needed to pursue most professional careers, so if people don't need to spend money on them, they just don't!

They're most popular in places like Florida and Alaska where the landscape is better suited for the aircraft type.

Some of the most fun planes to fly on the water are a Cessna 182 or a Piper Super Cub on Floats.

Even cooler is the Icon, specifically the A5 model. There are lots of different planes that are fun to fly on the water, but my favorite has to be the Piper Super Cub of these 3 listed.  

2) Cirrus SR22

I'm quoting one of my country coworkers when I say this (so read it in a southern accent): the SR22 is the 'cat's meow' of general aviation. It truly cannot get any better than this. Cirrus set out to design something highly aerodynamic that, while even being a high weight, has a long glide range and fast TAS. 

Cirrus are high-quality aircraft. Usually, they come with a hefty price tag, but they're worth every penny. 

Butterfly doors, a certified parachute, and spring-loaded controls as its own rudder gust lock system give it unique qualities. But the best thing is it's just an easy plane to fly. While being a sleek plane, the checklists are still simple and operating procedures are easy to understand -- there's nothing in the systems that's entirely different from something like a C172. You might have to learn FADEC or adjust to flying a constant-speed prop without having a manifold pressure lever, but most pilots get the hang of things in 2-3 flights. 

3) Diamond DA 62

Well, do I need to say anything after you look at this picture? The DA 62 is without a doubt my favorite multi-engine general aviation type aircraft. 

This is like the SR22: easy to fly, has great maneuverability, and is again the "cat's meow" of flying! While the cirrus is easily a favorite single-engine piston type plane, this is the gold medalist of the multi-engine world (outside of turbojets). For those shopping for a plane that has good economic fuel burn but also has good speed to make it to different destinations across the states within a day: THIS.IS.IT.

I can't say it enough, you don't want to miss out on flying this plane! A single flight in these makes a multi-engine ticket worth it.

Any other ideas on planes to ask Santa for this year? There are always lots of fun aircraft to fly that are easily forgotten or not flown as much but are still such a blast. 

Stay tuned and let us know what you guys get for Christmas! It's always fun to see what pilots around the world get as gifts; unique people make for unique presents.

Dealing with Frustration in the Cockpit

We've all been there:

In the cockpit, workload gets kind of high or we don't complete a task to our own personal standards, frustration starts setting in...next thing you know you realize you (or the person you're flying with) has become frustrated. Let's talk about the different signs this is occurring and how to combat it to not only have a safe but enjoyable flight. 

Pictured above is a Citation II

I want to make this an important topic because frustration is a real thing when flying, and it's not considered a hazardous attitude by the FAA yet most definitely exists. 

Whether I'm acting as an SIC for the corporate work I do or instructing in a C172, I see the same signs setting in every time. First, the grip on the controls starts getting tighter. The throttle(s) are held tighter and the controls are gripped more strongly.

Next, the scan of the cockpit and outside the windshield (if VFR) slows. The gaze starts to become fixated on certain things, and sometimes things that don't really matter. And of course, the mindset becomes fixated too. You're not thinking as logically and clearly like you usually do, it's almost as if you're in a haze and your ability to fly is decreasing.

Being in this state of mind may not necessarily kill you, but it will put you behind the plane every time. You might now forget to get ATIS and load the arrival in for your descent, enter the traffic pattern incorrectly, or forget to bring your gear up after takeoff...there's a lot of things that can happen that will slip out of your grip. 

The best way to combat this? Recognize it as soon as it's happening and correct it.

Just like all 5 hazardous attitudes have an antitdote, I've came up for one on this too. First off, admit that you're frustrated to yourself.  Look down and notice your tightened grip then look inside the rest of the cockpit and make sure everything looks as it should. Are your engine instruments indicating normal? What's your altitude? Why are you at that altitude? Did you mean to be at that altitude?

Ask yourself these kinds of questions! I call it intentional flying: everything you're currently doing you are doing it with a purpose and not letting the aircraft fly itself. This previous frustration is now going to lead to you getting flustered when you realize you're doing something wrong and now must correct it. BUT DON'T LET YOURSELF GET FLUSTERED EITHER. Fix the problem. Make yourself take a step back and take in everything, breathe, relax that death grip on the controls, and diagnose what is going on and how best to handle it. 

The second you panic, get mad, give up, or act without thinking is the second that now you might be in REAL trouble. So don't let yourself get that far! So again...remember to RELAX and then just fly how you were taught to. 

Thanks for reading. Any questions or comments? Leave them below!

Commercial Add-On: Transitioning From Fixed-Wing to Rotary Ratings

One of the most common commercial rotary transitions is helicopter pilots wanting a fixed-wing add-on. This is seen pretty often with military helicopter pilots such as former Apache or Blackhawk crews. 

But, does anyone ever get an add-on from previous fixed-wing to rotary? It's not common but it's out there. Some do it for fun and some do it to add to their resume and expand their job opportunities. 

A good resource that can help with this type of transition is Veracity Aviation. I went here about a month ago at the Pearland, TX location to talk with some of the instructors, and here's a briefing of what I got:

The general requirements for a commercial add-on through a 141 program would be to 

  • Already hold a fixed wing commercial pilot certificate
  • Current FAA Medical Certificate
  • Helicopter Instrument Rating not required
  • No FAA Written Exam
  • Pass an FAA Oral and Practical Flight Test
  • 30 dual flight hours
  • 5 solo flight hours
  • 10 hours instrument hours

If you're looking to do a CFI add-on as a way to build rotary hours then you would be required to 

  • Hold a Commercial Pilot Helicopter Certificate
  • Must Read, Write, Understand, and Speak English
  • Hold a Current FAA Medical Certificate
  • Pass an FAA Oral and Practical Flight Test
  • Fixed wing CFI license
  • Complete 25 hours of flight time

as with any CFI rating as well, you must be 18 years old.

However, this posted above is for a part 141 program. Here's what the regs require for a part 61 program:

at least 150 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least: 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in helicopters.

  • 100 hours of PIC, which includes at least - 35 hours in helicopters, 10 hours in cross-country flight in helicopters.
  • 20 hours of training on the areas of operation listed in 61.127 (b)(3) that includes at least -
  • 5 hours of helicopter hood time/instrument maneuvers
  • One 2-hour cross country flight in a helicopter in daytime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure
  • One 2-hour cross country flight in a helicopter in nighttime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and
  • 3 hours in a helicopter with a CFI in preparation for the check ride within the preceding 2 calendar months from the month of the test.
  • Ten hours of solo flight time in a helicopter or 10 hours of flight time performing the duties of PIC in a helicopter with an authorized CFI on board
  • 1 cross-country flight with landings at a minimum of three points, with one segment consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern).

All of these requirements can be found in the FAR AIM under 61.129 helicopter rating. A 141 program can cut down testing requirements however to make the add-on even easier.

Who knows, the add-on may lead you to new career opportunities flying something like an Airbus H130. I'd say it's worth your time to get through those requirements and learn to fly a new aircraft. Join the "dark side" and comment below how it goes!

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